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Heart attack victim wins £100,000 in tribunal

Former cleaning company manager, Grace Rouse, has won a claim against her employer who did not make reasonable accommodations following her heart attack at work in July 2019.

Whilst Rouse was recovering from the heart attack, her employer, cleaning service Andron Facilities, sent her a letter to say she was at risk of redundancy.  

The letter proposed Rouse take up a new role on a lower salary and required her to undertake heavy lifting which was medically inadvisable due to her heart condition. 

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The tribunal also found that Andron had failed to take Rouse’s illness seriously, adding more contracts to her workload and failing to progress an occupational health referral. 

Rouse told her manager that she had been medically advised not to drive for more than four hours a day. However, on her return to work she was assigned jobs that would require eight hours of driving a day. 

Andron also hired Area Supervisors to cover the Rouse’s area, making her feel she was being pushed out of her job. 

Matt Jenkin, employment partner at law firm Moorcrofts, said there were a number of important learning points employers can take from this case.   

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Firstly, when going through a redundancy process and an employee is placed at risk, make sure that you communicate with them on a regular basis.   

“Not doing so here caused the employee understandable frustration and concern.” 

Jenkin also said employers must carefully consider how to support employees with medical issues and what adjustments to make. 

He said: “Not taking the illness seriously was a contributing factor to the resignation as well a breach of the implied terms of the contract.  

“An employer dealing with an employee with a medical condition should ensure that they obtain up to date medical evidence so that they can fully understand the condition, the impact of that condition on the employee and any adjustments that should be considered.”